Los Angeles

G. Ray Kerciu

Comara Gallery

Kerciu, a misplaced Michiganian, is the artist who “defiled” the flag of the Confederacy during a temporary tour of teaching at “Ole Miss.” In five pseudopop works he managed to enrage all that is dear to the Southern heart—prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and segregation. The consequences were threats of a substantial fine and up to seven months in jail. Kerciu now teaches at a Southern California university, fortunately, and his diminished subject matter shows it.

Politics aside, these most recent works would seem to indicate an over refinement of his New Realist mode. Some of them, especially compared with the Ole Miss paintings, can be adjudged with no other word than “weak.” A quotation by Picasso which appears in the gallery’s announcement brings up an interesting and too-seldom considered point. As Picasso said, “What do you think an artist is? A fool? If he is a painter has only eyes if he is a musician, only ears, if he is a poet, only a lyre for all the chords of the heart, or even, if he is a boxer, only muscles? On the contrary, he is at the same time a social creature. . . .” True, of course. Yet the stature and power of the artist must eventually rest upon nothing but his eye, as the musician his ear; and anything beyond this, as valid, as true, as fine as it may be, loses the force of its truth without the one essential ingredient of the artist. And that is the ability to see. There is no doubt that Kerciu sees, and often with perception and depth. Yet perhaps now is the time to sharpen the focus instead of narrowing the lens.

Clair Wolfe